Erin, a former “Married at First Sight” reality TV star, is 28 years old and lives in Australia. This is how she’s Conquering with Keen Awareness in her own words.
I started pulling my hair out at age 15. I didn’t realise hair pulling was how I coped with anxiety until I was 28. That’s THIRTEEN years later!! My Trichotillomania affected me every day. Hair pulling was something damaging that I knew would make me unhappy, but I felt so much better when I did it. It was a very vicious cycle.
Eventually I pulled out so much hair I was unable to wear my hair down anymore. And not long after that my hair pulling became obvious even after my best attempts to hide my baldness. I was terribly unhappy and stressed all the time. My Trichotillomania consumed my thoughts on an hourly basis. Hair pulling was something I never, ever, thought I'd be able to stop.
A few years ago I participated in the reality TV show “Married at First Sight.” The show was a good distraction from my Trichotillomania. At the time I wasn't really in the best head space and still very much in the shame and denial phase of Trich. I remember being very wary of how my hair looked and at which angle the cameras were filming me to best hide the damage I had caused from hair pulling.
I went from telling no one about my Trichotillomania to telling a few friends, then my partner, then a couple more friends, and eventually I told my doctor and psychologist. The more I opened up the more comfortable I felt. But also, educating myself on Trich and finding support groups online also made me feel more “accepted.” I think the less honest you are with yourself the more it feeds the Trich monster.
There comes a point when you have to face it head first and thankfully I did eventually get to that point myself. In early 2018 I decided to shave my head for the World’s Greatest Shave, an Australian charity that raises money for the Leukemia Foundation. But, I also shaved my head because I wanted to bring awareness to Trichotillomania. I shared with my Instagram audience that I hoped it was “DAY 1 of my journey to overcome my 14 year struggle with Trichotillomania.” As I made my struggle public, I was connected to HabitAware and talked to them about Keen, their Trichotillomania awareness tracking bracelet.
I had been looking for a hair pulling solution for a long time. You name it - I’ve tried it. But nothing worked. I’m a member of a number of Facebook Trichotillomania support groups, so I had heard of HabitAware. Keen had been mentioned many times as a really good product for hair pulling and other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs), like skin picking and nail biting. I decided to give it a try.
"I am so much more confident and in general a much happier person"
After wearing Keen, I’m happy to say I’m 3 months pull free! I’m someone with an 'addictive' personality, so I found that I needed something constant and reliable to hold me accountable for the habit I was trying to break. That’s why Keen worked for me - because it was a constant reminder every time I put my hand to my head. Of course, it takes a certain mental state, too - you have to really WANT to quit. My hair has grown back 99% and even looks like it may be thicker in some places! I'm on a great streak of taking control and feeling very optimistic! I am so much more confident and in general a much happier person. Thank you, HabitAware!
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Together with Abbe Greenberg and Maggie Sarachek, of the Anxiety Sisters, and Lauren McKeaney of PickingME Foundation we recorded a podcast to share treatments for body focused repetitive behaviors like trichotillomania and dermatillomania, along with our mental health stories.
It's important that Keen fits snugly. Here's a quick guide to help you decide which bracelet size to order: